How to make self-care a priority on holiday

self care on holiday tips

Do you ever feel like you need a holiday just to recover from being on holiday? I get this all the time, and I realised it’s because I wasn’t setting aside time for self-care when I was away. We often feel obliged to cram in as much sight-seeing or partying as possible, instead of actually taking time to rest when we have the chance. If you’ve got a holiday coming up I suggest being mindful of a few things in order to make self-care a top priority…

Fuel your body

Although being on holiday is a great excuse to enjoy a few treats that doesn’t mean neglecting what your body really needs. I love this post from Rachael about how overeating at the weekend can make you feel terrible, and it’s exactly the same for holidays. Eat what makes you feel good (cake and chips, obvs) but also eat what makes you actually feel good (you know… the odd carrot, lettuce leaf and potato).

It’s easy to get carried away with trying everything on offer just because it’s there, but remember that self-care means listening to your body and knowing what it wants. I like to eat a big breakfast otherwise I get hangry and all of a sudden I’m ordering a burrito, fries and planning dessert before I’ve even finished lunch.

I personally find that fuelling my body early with a big bowl of porridge and fruit helps be feel satisfied and mentally ready to start the day without feeling deprived. I also like to avoid alcohol (just my preference, no judgements) and drink lots of water, eat plenty of greens and avoid too much sugar before bed.

 

Dress comfortably

Wearing summer outfits gives me the fear. I’m not made to exist in a hot climate, so finding clothes that are appropriate is a real struggle for me. I want to wear long, flowing skirts and little white cotton dresses but the truth is chub-rub is REAL. These thighs were not made to meet on such a regular occurrence.

As much as I’d love to look all flirty and feminine on the beach it’s just not comfortable for me. How can I be expected to catch a break when I’m physically uncomfortable? I say wear what feels right.

For me, that’s loose-fitting harem pants, leggings and big-old denim shorts. Being at ease with your physical self is SO important to allow your mind to unwind, so wear what you want and feel free.

Stay active

You should absolutely take time to catch up on some sleep when you’re on holiday. I remember when we were on our honeymoon, we didn’t make it to the breakfast buffet once the entire week and it was fabulous! Waking up naturally without an alarm is an amazing feeling, but try to stay as active as possible throughout the day to avoid any unnecessary fatigue.

Walking outside is so helpful to keep your body ticking over as well as induce those mood-boosting endorphins. It will also help you get a better sleep in the evening meaning you should naturally rise earlier the next morning.

self care holiday tips

Plan some alone time

As an introvert, I personally find a week stuck in other people’s company a little overwhelming at times. I crave downtime on my own because that’s how I recharge my batteries and find energy for the next day.

My favourite way to find alone time on holiday is to go to the gym. It’s my own space where I can reflect but still do something productive that I enjoy and I generally leave the gym feeling more energised that when I went in. Weird, right?

I know this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun though, so try and find the thing that works for you. It might be a soak in the tub, a massage or a good hour getting lost in your favourite book. Whatever works.

Have you made a self-care plan for your next holiday?

5 easy ways to de-stress right now

feel less stressed

I’m the queen of stressing out. I can appear calm and collected on the surface for weeks, but it only takes something small and insignificant to tip me over the edge into total meltdown-mode. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years and now implement all of them on a daily basis to keep me relaxed, or call on them to tackle those panic-stricken moments that come out of the blue.

1. Listen to a podcast

I’ve never managed to maintain a blogger-style morning routine (are any of those real?) but one thing I consistently do in the morning is listen to podcasts. When I get out of the shower the first thing I do is put on an episode of My Favourite Murder whilst I get ready.

Yes, true crime relaxes me and I know you won’t judge me for that. It’s the dedicated ‘me time’ that I don’t often find elsewhere in the day, and it lets me forget about work and instead listen to two hilarious ladies explain the details of gory murders that have happened across the globe.

2. Go for a walk

There is something about waking outside that really helps me focus. Putting my phone on silent in my pocket definitely helps matters, as does breathing in the fresh air and getting a new perspective on things.

If you’re feeling stuck creatively, or just putting off doing certain things I honestly think walking outside is the perfect motivation. It helps clear your head, releases endorphins and gives you that can-do attitude that’s so hard to find when you stay cooped up indoors.

less stress relax

3. Write a list

Sometimes actually doing the things that stress you out are just too much, and I for one like to bury my head in the sand as long as possible before getting proactive. That’s where my love for planning comes in.

When I’ve got too much going on in my head, I take a pen and a notebook and do a ‘brain-dump’, something I learned from the incredibly organised Jenny Melrose. It’s basically a way of writing down all the thoughts, tasks and to-dos that are swirling around your mind in order to feel a little better. Once you have the list of random thoughts, you can start constructing some sort of plan.

This is great because it allows you to pick out the easiest jobs that you can complete quite quickly. For the more daunting tasks, dedicate a whole page to mapping out the smaller steps that need to be taken making the job easier to manage. Ta-da! More planning = less stress.

4. Organise a small space

Looking for organisational tips? You won’t find them here. I’m pretty scatter-brained when it comes to household chores and really don’t take any pleasure in cleaning, but I will admit that it feels good to do it now and again.

When I’ve got a growing to-do list sometimes I find it helpful to take 30 minutes and tidy up a small area of my home, as it leaves me feeling more motivated to continue with my day. For me this area is normally the kitchen. I cook a lot from scratch so I make a mess in there. I like to wash all the dishes, clean the surfaces, sweep and then mop the floor and then I normally feel a little more calm and collected.

5. Talk

Talking is such a simple thing, but something we often neglect to do when we’re feeling stressed. We’re conditioned to bottle things up, battle on and continue spinning plates until they all coming crashing down around us. We wonder why we can’t do everything all at once, but everyone has different capabilities and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I ended up seeing a counsellor because I couldn’t be open about my problems.

Pick up the phone and call someone you trust. Tell your colleague that you’re a bit over-worked. Text that one person who knows you inside out and ask for help. I let out most of my minor aggravations on Instagram stories on a daily basis and people always respond with helpful messages to pick me up and make me feel better.

Have you found any easy ways to feel less stressed?

 

Opening up about mental illness in the modelling industry – Washed Away by Nikki Dubose

nikki dubose book review

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a Memoir by former model Nikki Dubose. She has appeared in magazines such a Maxim, Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair and first suffered from an eating disorder at just eight years old.

Her childhood trauma of sexual abuse led to bulimia, various drug addictions and serious mental illness in later life. Although she boasted a high-flying career in the fashion industry, at the height of her success she was experiencing intense inner turmoil which she kept hidden from the world.

Talking about one performance on the catwalk she writes;

“As my feet carry me to the edge, I hear no sound, experience no sensation. Despite the music and commotion, I am lost in a dreamland. How long have I waited to arrive in this spectacular moment? I never imagined I would feel so numb, so vacant. Dozens of cameras pop and crackle as they capture the magnificent creature before them. I perform, but inside I feel trapped, imprisoned within my mind.”

Nikki describes the terrifying ‘whispers’ she hears when she’s on stage, the voices in her head which mock her every move. When met with praise she ignores everyone and instead of celebrating with champagne and dancing, she rushes home to her apartment to be alone. She only wants one thing, and that’s to binge on – and then purge – large amounts of food.

To say Nikki came from a broken home would be kind at best. Her parents separated early on and her mother sexually abused her and treated her as a buddy; someone to show off to as she performed sex acts in online chat rooms and hooked up with strangers in bars. This is just one of several people who took advantage of her innocence from a young age.

With such a tainted childhood, it’s no surprise that Nikki went looking for love in all the wrong places. Her struggle to meet the demands of how a model should look only exacerbated her eating disorder as well as her constant self-loathing.

As I read the history of Nikki’s eating disorder it became clear that it was not only a way to stay as thin as possible for the modelling world, but a form of physical release that she couldn’t get elsewhere. Her mental illness ultimately led to the physical condition which consumed her life.

Having lived with a hatred for my own body for most of my life and dieting since aged 17, this topic really hit home for me. I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know I’ve teetered on the edge, and so I empathised with the daily rituals she went through to hide her unhealthy behaviours.

“I binged and threw up in the shower or in paper bags that I kept in my bedroom. I was the smart one; Evelin and Vitor had no idea, especially when I hid the vomit in the paper bags. My knuckles and lips began to bleed and scar again, but I covered them with concealer. Whenever a make-up artist raised an eyebrow at the cuts, I said that I had an autoimmune disease.”

Nikki talks to the reader as though we are her closest ally. Throughout her illness she felt unable to share her troubles with anyone, so to have her talk intimately and in great detail about the things she’s endured is a privilege.

Reading her words is like being inside Nikki’s head. Her writing style is brutally honest and disturbing at times, a testament to not only what she has endured but also how difficult it must have been for her to relive these painful memories and put them down on paper.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.

Although Washed Away is about championing the possibility of recovery, it’s my no means a self-help book. I’m not sure the world needs another one of those anyway. Often those of us with mental illness know deep down what steps need to be taken, but we just can’t imagine having the strength carry them out.

This book proves that we are indeed strong enough, and that even the darkest of times will lead to light.

Buy Nikki’s book here

This post is sponsored and contains affiliate links

 

10 random acts of kindness you can do today

random acts of kindness

February 12th sees the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week. I don’t care much for these types of campaigns – although I’ll admit National Doughnut Day has made me reconsider – but if there’s something to raise awareness about, being kind to one another does nothing but good things in my book.

From a mental health perspective, showing kindness to a stranger is incredibly powerful. You’ll never know how important a welcoming smile could be to a person with anxiety, or offering your parking ticket to someone who’s so stressed that they forgot to bring change for the meter.

As someone with depression and anxiety I also take pleasure in being kind to others. It can lift my mood, make me feel productive and worth something on days when my brain wants me to feel otherwise.

1. Give to a homeless person

Since living in Birmingham I’ve become very aware that homelessness is a real problem in this city. I pass a homeless person almost everyday on the way to work and I try and give him something to eat. If you can do this today then I know it would help.

2. Give a stranger a compliment

I work in a customer service environment so I meet hundreds of people everyday. I regularly have an inner dialogue which goes something like this, “She has a lovely smile. I love her top. She’s so friendly”. Then I go on with my day and forget all about it. The few times where I’ve actually vocalised a compliment to a stranger have always ended well. People love to receive compliments!

random acts of kindness blog mental health blogger

3. Buy someone a coffee

This is my go-to act of kindness when I’m feeling generous. Who doesn’t appreciate a free coffee? Ask your mate out for a drink and don’t let them pay or simply take a hot drink into work for someone who needs it. You won’t regret it.

4. Listen

We all have those friends or colleagues who can talk for Britain. If like me, you tend to zone out when they speak then try and spend today really listening to what they have to say. It could be that you actually find it interesting!

random acts of kindness mental health bloggger

5. Tip your server

As a cafe worker I’m obliged to ask that you consider us who prepare your food and beverages everyday with a smile. OK I don’t smile all of the time but believe me, I’m making a huge effort not to look grumpy when we make eye contact. I can guarantee you that a generous tip does not go unnoticed to us minimum wage earners, so consider popping an extra few coins in the jar on your way out today.

6. Send someone flowers

Valentines Day may have passed, but giving someone fresh flowers never gets old. It might be an elderly neighbour who helps feed your pet or the childminder who always goes the extra mile for your little ones, but whoever it is you can be sure a surprise bouquet will put a smile on their face.

random acts of kindness mental health blogger

7. Giveaway something you don’t need

Cleaning out your closet is a great place to start if you’re looking for something to giveaway. I recently gave away a few brand new t-shirts that were too small for me and I was glad they went to someone who wanted them. You might find you have something of use which you can give to a friend, if not just fill up a box for charity.

8. Offer your services for free

If you run a business then why not run a competition where someone can win something that you would normally charge for? Or you could simply pick one of your customers at random and give them a special discount. These little freebies are also a great marketing tool that give your business the human touch.

9. Give to a charity

Instead of buying a sandwich at lunch, why not bring in a home made meal and put a fiver in the nearest charity box? You could also donate a box of unwanted clothes or household items to your local charity shop or sign up to a fundraising event like a run or walk.

random acts of kindness mental health blogger UK

10. Make the call

Remember, you don’t need to spend a penny to be kind. Promise yourself that today you’ll make that call you’ve been avoiding. It might be your mum, a sibling or an old work friend that’s gone off the radar for too long. It only takes a few minutes but it can make someone’s day.

Tweet me and let me know what random act of kindness you performed today!

Why I’m grateful for my family

gratitude mental health blogger UK

It’s that time again where I want to set my other work aside and practice gratitude. This is a task I’m taking great pleasure in if I’m honest, and I didn’t realise just how much I have to be grateful for until I started this challenge. I’m also joined by Lu Lu Blue who is doing this challenge too.

I won’t talk about my husband today as he got an entire blog post dedicated to him last week, instead I want to talk about my close family. I come from a small family. It’s just my parents and my two brothers and I. We are a quiet bunch of folks and we get on pretty well.

Here are a few specific things I’m grateful for and why:

My parents always encouraged extra-curricular activities. My younger brother Colin played football and my older brother Stuart has been a drummer in a band since he was a teenager. I was in a drama club, played piano and loved drawing and writing as a kid. We were always expected to try our best in school, but as long as we could promise mum and dad that we ‘tried our best’ we were never judged for our grades. This helped build our social skills and let us express ourselves creatively in a way which has made us who we are today.

We’ve all done stupid stuff. Thank god that we’ve stuck by each other through it all. No one holds a grudge in my family and we all remember the good – and embarrassing – times more than anything else. When we get together we generally have a laugh about stupid shit we’ve done and enjoy it. There’s no judgement.

We live apart but it’s not too bad. One of my brothers now lives in Australia, and although it’s hard not to see him at family events I’m grateful that he’s found a partner and settled down in an exciting new place. I’ve moved away from Scotland too (only to Birmingham, so not quite so far) and I’m grateful that my parents still make the effort to come and visit me as much as possible. I’m also grateful that they forgive me when I get busy and forget to call them for a few weeks. I need to work on that one!

Above all, I’m grateful for the unconditional love I receive from all of my family members. As someone with depression and anxiety it’s easy for me to feel like I’ve become a burden to others when I’m going through a particularly bad period. I know I have family I can rely on and I can ask them for anything. That’s what I’m most grateful for.

 

 

Year of gratitude week 2: Spouse

 

It time to explore the year of gratitude again, and I’m so excited to talk this week about how grateful I am to have my husband! If you like this post then check out this post from LuLu Blue on the same subject.

I don’t think you need to be in a relationship to be happy. Quite the opposite in fact; you need to be happy in yourself to develop a good relationship. I don’t talk much about my marriage online because it was my choice to start blogging – not his – and it’s not my place to start sharing our private life online. There are however a few things I want to highlight;

He has showed amazing strength throughout my mental illness

When I quit my job and soon realised I was unfit to work at all, he was incredibly supportive. He didn’t make me feel guilty about being unable to provide an income to our household and even though I often felt like I wasn’t contributing, I never felt under pressure to go back work until I was ready. I acted irrationally for many months. My social anxiety was particularly crippling but he was always by my side in those situations where I felt I might have to ‘escape’ at any moment. As soon as I needed to leave I gave him the secret nod and off we would trot, calmly without any fuss. This was an immense help to me because when I felt like a total weirdo he didn’t question it.

grwhat i'm grateful for 2017

He brought me to Birmingham

When he was offered his dream job in June 2016 and given a month to relocate, I didn’t think twice about screaming “Yes! Let’s go”. I’ll admit I had some teething issues when we first arrived – no surprise there – but I’m so happy we left Glasgow to come here. Obviously I still pine for real potato scones and Irn Bru on tap but Birmingham has given me so many opportunities with regards to blogging, work and meeting new people. I’m pretty sure I would never have ended up here (geographically and mentally) if it wasn’t for him so I’m incredibly grateful for that.

He accepts me entirely

We forget when we fall in love that things change. People’s interests and desires grow and adapt over time and this has been true for me over our 12 year relationship. When we met I was a rock-chick who slurped cider for breakfast. Now I’m a gym-addict who loves nothing more than a night in with a face mask and a bowl of soup. I’ve been a size 20 and a size 10. I’ve had a well-paid management job and now I work for minimum wage. No matter what decision I make or how I think I look to others, I know that I’ll always have the unconditional love of my husband.

What are you grateful for this week?

 

Year of gratitude week 1: Why start this challenge?

mental health blogger uk gratitude 2017 challenge

If you didn’t catch my post earlier this week, click here to find out more about the year of gratitude challenge that I’ve decided to try out on my blog.

I won’t lie. I kind of decided to do this at the last minute. I was at my in-laws house over Christmas and I was hiding in our allotted guest room whilst my husband was out with friends. I’d hit the wall with socialising and needed some time to myself. Whilst scrolling through Pinterest I came across this pin listing 52 writing prompts in relation to gratitude. Had I stumbled across this in the middle of August, it’s likely I’d have thought ‘nice idea’ and moved on. But with New Year’s Eve imminent and the thought of a new calendar of blog posts to plan, the concept seemed interesting. Here are a few specific reasons…

Weekly deadlines

When it comes to goal setting I’m a firm believer in ‘fake it until you make it’. I will set a deadline or sign up for something that seems totally unattainable, knowing deep down that the act of setting the goal is what forces me take action to make it happen. When I signed up to run a half marathon several years ago I knew that I would do it because I’d booked and paid for my place. I didn’t think about the end goal much, just the steps I had to take to get there. I announced it publicly – albeit just on Facebook – which it held me accountable; another mind trick I regularly use on myself when I’m putting off doing something. I like the idea of having a weekly schedule of ideas to write about from a blogging point of view. More importantly, I like that I will be reflecting on my life in a positive, helpful way on a regular basis. I believe this is going to set me up to have a strong, healthy outlook over the next 12 months.

My mental health

I’ve overcome some things in 2016 that I’m really proud of. I didn’t plan to do most of them but for whatever reason, I felt confident enough to try and I wasn’t disappointed. I started writing more regularly, made progress with my social anxiety, started to work through my body image problems and faced up to my issues around food. Blogging about mental health has been a cathartic process for me and for that I’m eternally grateful. I hope I always have the ability to write in some form, and committing to this challenge is a way to secure that for the next year. I know it will help me work through some negative thoughts as well as give thanks for everything that’s brought me to this point.

grateful for 2017 mental health blogger UK fiona thomas

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I make myself cringe when I read some of the crap I drone on about on here, and I’m fully aware that I sound like some self-proclaimed internet ‘life coach’ when I say you get what you give in life. I know you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but I truly believe that you receive the energy you give out. When you are constantly negative then your life becomes negative by default. I use the word ‘energy’ with no spiritual connotations; it’s merely the best word I can find to describe what I mean. I want to use this challenge as a way to send out positive energy about all the good things in life. I want to point out the small things that make my world a happy place, even when I’m not necessarily happy myself. Suffering from depression means that those days will certainly come, but I know making time to pick out the good will help me ride out the storm until it passes.

What are you grateful for today?

Why I’m not dieting this January (even though I’m a size 16)

no dieting mental health January body positivity

A few years ago I would’ve planned a fresh new blog post ready to go live featuring my favourite fat-loss tips for January, or how to ‘get back on track’ after Christmas. Now, I can’t be f*@ked with all that. 

I still love eating healthily because it gives me the energy to do the things I enjoy, but apart from that I’ve kind of given up on weight-loss. I’ve been there, living the ‘fitspo’ life, and I’m done with it. Here’s why…

I’ve been thin and it wasn’t all that

A lot of people look back on pictures of themselves when they looked different and have distorted memories about how they really felt at the time. When I look back on pictures of myself aged 18 and weighing approximately 200lbs, I was overweight but having the time of my life. I had just moved away from home, started university, was meeting new people everyday and learning who I really was. I was socialising like mad and I was incredibly happy. When I was at my leanest – aged 27 – I was battling depression, anxiety, obsessively over-exercising and following a very low calorie diet. I was still happy but I was very tightly wound and had strict rules about what I ate and was constantly hungry, leading to poor brain function and irritability. I’m not saying that you can’t be thin and happy; but don’t put all your eggs in one basket thinking that it’s the answer to all of life’s problems. You’ll still have problems no matter what weight you are.

Restriction isn’t sustainable

It took me years to understand that pretty much every diet is destined to fail. It’s not your lack of will power that lets you down; it’s the fact that you’re restricting yourself so much for so long that your mind and body inevitably cannot do it any more. The penny started to drop when I read a book called Intuitive Eating, although I still did a few years of crash-dieting before what I read began to make sense in my head. I’ve tried to explain to people that a)learning to love your body as it is will stand you in better stead than trying to change it and b)dieting is almost 100% guaranteed to fail in the long term. The truth is, I didn’t believe it myself until I’d dieted for 12 years, lost approximately 60lbs and gained it all back in the end. Sometimes you have to live through that to see that you’re not the one person that’s going to ‘stick to the plan’ and prove everyone wrong. I get it. Just take it from someone who has restricted food groups for most of my adult life; IT DOESN’T WORK.

You’re not defined by your aesthetic

I’ve written before about how when I feel really low about my body image, I like to remember how I look at other people. I very rarely look at someone and think much about what they look like in a typical sense. I’ll perhaps notice a nice necklace they’re wearing, the smell of their perfume, how friendly they were, if they smiled or held eye contact with me. When I look at my friends and family I see their personality traits; I genuinely don’t think about what they look like in a negative way whatsoever, so the chances are no one else is giving a crap about what I look like either. No one is noticing my double chin, my muffin top and my hairy legs and if they ARE then frankly, they need to get a life. I know that what I bring to the table is more important that a thin body, so why fixate on that small, insignificant part of me?

Your brain can do so much more than just count calories

When I was fixated on counting calories it honestly didn’t leave time for much else. I was always on my phone figuring out what I could eat that day and scrutinizing food labels to see which had the fewest calories. I was always trimming calories at every opportunity, but never eating a proper meal to compensate. I ‘had to’ exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes per day (ideally double that) so my mind and body were both exhausted. I didn’t realise the perpetual use of will power combined with a low calorie diet was draining away all my brain power. Since I’ve stopped fixating on food and exercise I’ve had the energy to socialise and write everyday, which are two things I don’t want to give up.

Food is amazing

I’m sure you’re aware of how flippin’ fantastic food is. We can’t survive without it and we are lucky enough to have almost any kind we desire at our fingertips in plentiful amounts. It’s a great way to socialise, show gratitude, celebrate and commiserate. We don’t need to overindulge but sometimes it’s nice. It’s such an important part of our world that it seems wrong to cut it out and stop ourselves from enjoying it. I’m not saying we should eat what we want, when we want all the time; but maybe its time to loosen up and appreciate what we have?

Have you given up on dieting?

 

 

Why I’m making 2017 the year of gratitude

2017 mental health blogger UK gratitude

I’m always trying to be more mindful.

I’m getting better at it thanks to the odd yoga class and learning to put down my phone once in a while but of course, it’s all rather difficult.

Learning to count your blessings is difficult when you have depression. I feel empathy for complete strangers and bruise easily about causes which I don’t necessarily relate to my own life. I can feel heartbroken thinking about something I did year ago, and that inconsolable dread that accompanies my condition is sometimes hard to shake.

I’m slowly getting better though, and felt inspired when I stumbled across this post on Gurl.com and liked the idea of following the 52 weeks of gratitude challenge. Over the next year I’m aiming to write a short blog post each topic on a weekly basis as a way to document my journey of learning to be more grateful. Here’s the topic list in full if you want to join me….

52 weeks of gratitude mental health blogger UK

If you don’t blog then I think this is still a great tool to give you a writing prompt every week to reflect in your personal journal, or even just spend a few minutes peacefully reflecting on what you’re grateful for.

What do you think?

 

5 easy ways to feel more calm

ways to feel more calm less sressed and manage anxiety throughout the day
I’m pretty stressed sometimes. Did I pay that bill? Did I leave the oven on? When is that doctors appointment again? These are the thoughts that plague most of us throughout the day and they tend to build up and can feel a tad overwhelming at times. I’m working hard to make sure I don’t let unnecessary stress into my life as it’s a trigger for my anxiety and depression. If this sounds like you then read on for my tips for a calmer day…

Prepare the night before

I like to empty my mind in the evening by planning what I need to do the next day, and doing any preparation possible to help me feel a little more organised. For example, I like to lay out my gym clothes to make sure I get up and go work out without too much thought. I also like to make sure my dishes are done and my bathroom is relatively clean. For some reason starting the day with an organised space makes me much more relaxed from the get-go. I’ll also put any bin bags by the door so I can quickly grab them on the way out. Doing small things like packing my handbag, preparing my breakfast or laying out clean clothes are all small tricks that make my day go more smoothly.

Write a to-do list

This is pretty obvious but I’m always surprised at how many people don’t do this, especially busy people who have a lot of multitasking to do. I have an ongoing to-do list which I’m always adding things to, even if they don’t necessary need done straight away. Every evening I use this ‘master list’ to write a specific list for the next day. I prioritise what needs done first and then add anything else that I’d like to tackle, then if it doesn’t get done I can carry it over to tomorrow’s plan without too much panic.

Schedule in some down time

When I look at my to-do list it can be easy to go full steam ahead and keep going until it’s complete. I’ve learned from experience that this normally ends up with me freaking out around 4pm, struggling with a pounding headache, an empty stomach and the need to nap. For this reason I try to break up tasks with something enjoyable. For me this is often something simple like watching my favourite You Tubers for an hour or popping out for a coffee and some fresh air. I find scheduling in this time makes me more productive for the rest of the day and helps me relax in general.

Eat a good breakfast

Missing breakfast is guaranteed to stress me out, because my blood sugars will get low when I least expect it and then I start making irrational decisions based on hunger pangs. In order to avoid major mid-morning meltdowns I start my day with a protein shake or scrambled eggs on toast. This usually helps me stay satisfied and focused on whatever the day brings instead of feeling distracted by my rumbling belly. I love this post which has a few handy mood-boosting meal ideas. Don’t forget to keep an emergency snack in your handbag such as a banana or some cashew nuts, and drink plenty of water.

Exercise

Apart from writing, my other true love is exercising. I know not everyone has the same passion for working out (I will admit my passion can be absent at times too!) but I defy anyone to not feel great after a morning exercise sesh. A brisk walk with the dog or a run around the block before breakfast gives you time that no one can take away from you. It’s a special time to take a deep breath in and appreciate the day before it gets too hectic. It gets you warmed up, produces endorphins and creates that kick-ass “I can take on the world!” mindset that we all dream of having.

What helps you have a calm day?